ERP Guru Expands into Toronto with NetStra Purchase

Martin McNicoll

ERP Guru president Martin McNicoll

Montreal-based NetSuite solution provider ERP Guru has a history of making acquisitions – the company’s aggressive acquisitions strategy has seen it buy into the Chicago market, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh by way of purchasing its fellow NetSuite partners.

But president Martin McNicoll said he wasn’t looking to expand within Canada this year. That is, until NetStra Inc., a Toronto-based NetSuite partner, and its president Mark Walker, got in touch.

“We were opportunistic on this one,” he said. “We’re still looking to do one more acquisition in the U.S. this year, but we weren’t looking to expand in Canada. Toronto was a surprise for us.”

It may not have been in the long-term plans, but the NetStra purchase resembles the company’s other purchases. In each case, ERP Guru bought into a market by acquiring a smaller fellow NetSuite partner with whom it had personal and business connections.

But unlike its deals to move into Chicago and St. Louis, the company has existing customers in the Toronto area, so it’s not starting from zero. Walker will head up the company’s Toronto presence, which is moving into a new location in the downtown core. “He’s a great addition for us, who can write SuiteScript himself, but can sell it too, explain everything to the business people,” McNicoll said.

McNicoll said the company still doesn’t have plans to expand within Canada via acquisition, but clearly the company may eye organic growth in Western Canada. The solution provider already has customers in both Alberta and British Columbia, but McNicoll said he’s been surprised by the lack of NetSuite partners in Western Canada. “The opportunities are there, but we haven’t run into a big partner there,” he said.

But the fact that there’s demand in Western Canada may mean it’s likely to head there – McNicoll said the company’s model is to look at where there’s opportunity, and then build the business in location to take advantage of that opportunity. It is a bit of business irony that although the company is all about cloud-based software that’s run centrally, McNicoll feels it’s vitally important to have local “boots on the ground” to support customers.

“When you’re positioning yourself as a trusted advisor, it’s so important to have that local presence,” he said.

The solution provider has doubled its headcount – now at 65 – over the last year. McNicoll said the company has staffed up in Montreal, and will now prioritize ramping up its Manchester, NH location (an organic growth expedition) this year, and then Toronto. To support that growth, it’s developing what McNicoll calls “ERP Guru Accademy” at its Montreal headquarters, a new training facility where staff from satellite locations a few times a year for training, and to make sure the company’s culture stays consistent.

“Culture is so important – it’s the number one reason acquisitions fail,” McNicoll said.

At this week’s NetSuite SuiteWorld conference in San Jose, Calif., ERP Guru has a significant presence. Coming off a year when it was the cloud-based ERP vendor’s worldwide partner of the year, the company has a substantial booth, and McNicoll had a seat on a high-profile panel during the partner general session Monday. McNicoll’s message to his fellow partners: It’s time to get together and form a network of solution providers to collectively go after the market.